As we age, building and maintaining muscle mass becomes an increasingly challenging task. Age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, is a natural part of the aging process that can impact not just our strength and physical appearance, but also our overall quality of life. While some muscle mass decline is to be expected as we age, too much muscle loss can result in frailty and an increased risk of falls and fractures. The good news is that it's never too late to prevent, slow, or even reverse muscle loss. A combination of balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, and a few lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Here are five simple, effective strategies to combat age-related muscle loss:
1.Prioritize Protein Intake
Protein is essential, especially for those leading an active lifestyle. Eating enough protein can effectively prevent muscle loss and aid in muscle gain. The generic recommendation of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is not enough for active individuals over the age of 50 wishing to maintain or build muscle. Instead, aim for at least 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. In pounds, this equals about 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Calculate your daily protein requirement by multiplying your body weight in pounds by 0.7. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your daily protein requirement would be approximately 105g.
Dehydration can also lead to muscle loss. Our muscles consist of a substantial amount of water, and not drinking enough fluid daily can not only hinder muscle growth but also increase muscle breakdown. Inadequate hydration can also lead to less nutrient and oxygen delivery to muscles, which results in a decrease in physical performance and muscle fatigue. Aim to consume half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of fluid per day, plus an additional 20 ounces for each hour of exercise. For example, a 200-pound individual would require at least 100 ounces of fluid daily. Bonus: For an extra hydration boost, consider adding electrolytes to your water in the form of powder, tablets, or even a pinch of salt.
3. Incorporate Strength Training
While I am not a fitness expert, it's well established through research that including resistance and strength training in your weekly routine can help prevent muscle loss. Staying active in general is important but incorporating exercises that aid in muscle building has shown to be beneficial. If you are unsure where to begin, reach out to a personal trainer for guidance.
4.Consume Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into your diet can also aid in muscle loss prevention. Foods such as berries, whole grains, broccoli, and carrots, among other fruits and vegetables, are packed with antioxidants that help decrease oxidative stress linked to muscle loss. Aim to incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet to reap the muscle-preserving benefits of these antioxidant-rich foods.
5.Prioritize Quality Sleep
Sleep is extremely important for overall health, particularly when it comes to maintaining muscle mass. Both poor-quality and insufficient sleep have been linked to muscle loss since sleep is essential for muscle recovery and repair. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, combined with nutritious eating and regular exercise, to help prevent age-related muscle loss. For more in-depth information on aging, sarcopenia, and specifically, menopause nutrition for women, tune into my RDs vs BS podcast episode available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or through the website www.rdsvsbs.com.Stay informed and empowered on your journey towards improved health! Are you ready to take control of your nutrition and health goals this summer? I'm here to support you every step of the way. All new clients are invited to enjoy a complimentary nutrition intro session – visit my website at www.emilyzorn.com to learn more and book your session today.